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India celebrates ‘National Sports day’; birth anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand

India celebrates its National Sports Day on August 29 to mark the birth anniversary of the hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand.

Major Dhyan Chand in his hockey career contributed immensely for the country gaining gold medals in Olympics for India in the years 1928, 1932, and 1936. He scored over 400 goals in his career from 1926 to 1948.
Chand is a legendary player in the Indian and world hockey, having his country served to reach its pinnacles of glory multiple times. The most noted memorials for him is the Major Dhyan Chand Award, the highest award for lifetime achievement in sports and games in India.

The National Sports Day is observed every year to spread awareness regarding the importance of sports and physical activity in human life. The President of India confers the National Sports Awards, National Adventure Awards, Arjuna and Khel Ratna to celebrate the achievements of Indian athletes on this day.

Chand started playing hockey when he joined the Indian Army at the age of 16, as a sepoy. It was between 1922 and 1926 where Chand played army hockey tournaments and regimental matches. He retired from the Army in 1956 at the age of 51, with the rank of Major.

Chand has an autobiography named ‘Goal!’ which was published in 1952. The Government of India honoured him with the “Padma Bhushan”-  India’s third-highest civilian honour – in the same year. After retiring, Chand coached in Rajasthan and held the position of Chief Hockey Coach at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala for several years.

Chand was diagnosed with liver cancer and died on December 3, 1979. The Government of India renamed The National Stadium in Delhi to Dhyan Chand National Stadium in 2002. The British Government has named an Astroturf hockey pitch in London after Chand.

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